Youth & Suicide

In Ventura County, 45 youths ages 10-19 were hospitalized for self-inflicted or suicide injuries in 2011.

Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide, or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than others to kill themselves. See What to Do, below.

According to the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey, 26% of 7th graders, 32% of 9th graders, and 34% of 11th graders felt sad and hopeless for 2 weeks or more during the past year.  Additionally, 22% (an increase of 4%) of 9th graders and 20% (an increase of 3%) of 11th graders seriously considered suicide during the past year.

Dr. Celia Woods, a psychiatrist with the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department, spoke with CBS LA about suicide – watch the video. The Behavioral Health Department works with local schools to implement programs such as SafeTalk – a program designed to train confidential peer counselors. For more information, visit safeTALK.

Suicide Warning Signs

Many suicidal youth act in ways that signal their suicidal thinking. These include:

  • Preoccupation with death
  • Suicidal threats in the form of direct and indirect statements
  • Suicide notes and plans
  • Prior suicidal behavior
  • Making final arrangements (e.g., making funeral arrangements, writing a will, giving away prized possessions)
  • Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts and/or feelings

What to Do

Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly. However, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

  • Remain calm.
  • Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide.
  • Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
  • Listen.
  • Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
  • Do not judge.
  • Provide constant supervision and do not leave the youth alone.
  • Remove means for self-harm.
  • Get help: peers should not agree to keep the suicidal thoughts a secret. Instead, they should tell an adult such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to the designated school mental health professional or administrator.